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Mitch Garber to headline Israel Bonds event

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Portrait shoot with Mitch Garber

At a time when Jewish organizations in Montreal are scrambling to attract young people, State of Israel Bonds says its New Leadership Division is thriving.

It’s part of the local renaissance of the agency that underwrites debt securities issued by the government of Israel.

The division, which is aimed at those in their 20s to 40s, is holding its first major event on Feb. 20 at Le Windsor, when Mitch Garber, the multimillionaire former chairman and CEO of Las Vegas-based Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which he co-founded, will be the guest speaker.

Garber is the inaugural presenter of the Israel Bonds Bios series, which will bring in successful Canadian business leaders, community leaders and opinion makers, to speak to young professionals and entrepreneurs.

New Leadership Division co-chairs Israel Steckler and Matthew Azrieli say they were attracted to Israel Bonds because of its association with a dynamic, modern country that’s investing heavily in innovation. In other words, this is not their grandfathers’ Israel Bonds.

The two men head a committee of more than 20 young people who are reaching out to their peers, Jewish and non-Jewish, to make them aware of Israel’s achievements.

Committee member Anthony Koch, who is not Jewish, came on board after seeing what Israel is doing while on a student trip sponsored by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

The division offers participants the opportunity to network with other groups of young people in the United States, Europe and elsewhere in the world, said Steckler.

His generation is familiar with giving Israel Bonds as a gift for bar mitzvahs and other occasions. In fact, it was the maturing of a bond that he received as a wedding gift that brought him to the local Israel Bond office, where he learned that a New Leadership Division was being developed.

Israel Bonds are almost as old as the state itself. The first bond was issued in 1951, to provide resources for the young country. In times of conflict, bond rallies were the Diaspora’s way of contributing to a victory.

In good times and bad, Israel Bonds became a symbol of the connection between Israel and its supporters abroad. In the early decades, buying a bond was viewed as more of a charitable donation than an investment. After all, interest rates were extremely low and no one knew if Israel would be able to honour its debts.

READ: DOES JEWISH FUNDRAISING THAT PLAYS ON PEOPLE’S FEAR HAVE A FUTURE?

Sixty-seven years later, Israel has never defaulted on a payment, its credit rating is top-notch and bond terms are more attractive than any similar guaranteed fixed-term instruments offered by Canadian banks.

“Israel Bonds are a good, solid investment,” said Gilda Abdulezer, Israel Bonds’s new executive director for the Quebec region.

Israel Bonds are flexible, she noted. They can be included in RRSPs and tax-free savings accounts, or donated to charities. Canadian-dollar denominations start as low as $100.

Israel Bonds are not only marketed within the Jewish community, said Abdulezer. Major Canadian financial institutions have significant holdings of Israel Bonds and many non-Jewish individuals buy them, as well.

Azrieli pointed out that choosing Garber – who’s often seen as brash and outspoken – to launch the series was intended to attract people who wouldn’t normally show up to Israel Bonds events.

Garber, who’s a lawyer by trade and former sportscaster, made a fortune in online gaming and casinos.

Under Garber’s leadership, Caesars acquired the Israeli social-gaming startup Playtika in 2011 and grew it exponentially. Bloomberg News reported that he received a $210-million payout from the multibillion-dollar sale of Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s social-gaming unit to a Chinese consortium in 2016.

Garber left Caesars last October and has been focusing on new ventures and his philanthropic pursuits.

Garber leads a trip to Israel for non-Jewish Quebec business and political leaders each year.

He became a household name in Quebec when he was a judge on Dans l’oeil du dragon, the French version of CBC’s Dragons’ Den, for two seasons. In 2016, he co-chaired the $55-million Centraide campaign in Montreal, where he has maintained his principal residence.

Garber continues as chair of Cirque du Soleil and sits on the board of Texas-based clouding computing provider Rockspace.

Two categories of tickets are available for the Feb. 20 event: a VIP meet-and-greet and regular admission. It’s open to all ages. For more information, contact Maria Corsi at 514-482-0427, or [email protected].